Mississippi State vs South Carolina

Mississippi St. 70, South Carolina 59


NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - Fred Thomas scored a career-high 21 points Wednesday night as No. 13 seed Mississippi State defeated No. 12 seed South Carolina 70-59 in the first round of the Southeastern Conference tournament.

Mississippi State (10-21) advanced to a second-round game Thursday against No. 5 seed Tennessee (19-11). The Bulldogs have won three of their last four games, though they had lost 13 straight before that.

Colin Borchert and Roquez Johnson scored 11 points apiece and Gavin Ware added 10 for Mississippi State.

Bruce Ellington scored 13 points and Laimonas Chatkevicius matched a career high with 11 points for South Carolina, which has lost five of its last six.

South Carolina's Brenton Williams, who had scored a career-high 38 points in a 79-72 victory over Mississippi State on March 6, shot 2 of 13 and had just six points Wednesday.

After the game went back and forth for the first nine minutes, Mississippi State took control by going on a 13-0 run to break a 13-13 tie. Thomas, one of three freshmen in the Bulldogs' starting lineup, scored eight points during that spurt by hitting a pair of 3-pointers and two free throws.

Damien Leonard ended a six-minute scoring drought for South Carolina by hitting a jumper and followed that with a 3-pointer that cut Mississippi State's lead to 26-18, but the Bulldogs quickly recovered. Mississippi State led 32-21 at halftime and stayed in front by at least four points the rest of the night.

Mississippi State got unexpected production from 3-point range. The Bulldogs were last in the SEC in 3-pointers per game (4.7) and 3-point percentage (.281) during the regular season, but they went 7 of 15 from beyond the arc Wednesday while South Carolina was 6 of 31.

Thomas led the way by going 4 of 8 from 3-point range.

South Carolina cut Mississippi State's lead to 60-56 on a Williams 3-pointer with 4:09 remaining, but Mississippi State answered with six straight points. Thomas sank a 3-pointer and made two free throws during that game-clinching spurt.

Wednesday's victory represented a step forward for a Mississippi State program that has battled all kinds of injuries in coach Rick Ray's debut season.

Junior guard Jalen Steele and freshman guards Andre Applewhite and Jacoby Davis tore anterior cruciate ligaments. Senior forward Wendell Lewis fractured a right patella tendon. Steele ranked second on the team with 10.1 points per game. Lewis averaged 8.1 points in just eight games before getting hurt.

Copyright 2017 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Mississippi State (10-21) «323870
South Carolina (14-18)213859
MISSST:F. Thomas 21 Pts
MISSST:R. Johnson 8 Reb
MISSST:C. Sword 4 Ast
SC:B. Ellington 13 Pts
SC:B. Steele 7 Reb
SC:B. Williams 4 Ast

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Mississippi StateSouth Carolina
Fred Thomas
Laimonas Chatkevicius
Mississippi State Bulldogs
T. Bloodman, G353-61-33218
F. Thomas, G296-125-633221
C. Sword, G272-92-42416
C. Borchert, F245-60-081311
G. Ware, F234-72-271110
R. Johnson, F352-77-1080411
T. Cunningham, G251-20-22303
B. Price, G20-00-00000
W. Lewis, CDid Not Play
J. Steele, GDid Not Play
J. Davis, GDid Not Play
Totals 23-4917-2733141270
South Carolina Gamecocks
E. Smith, G293-90-04317
B. Ellington, G274-93-311413
L. Jackson, F212-30-03134
M. Carrera, F194-81-16019
B. Steele, F191-70-17212
B. Williams, G302-130-04416
L. Chatkevicius, F235-91-251111
D. Leonard, G143-40-01107
R. Slawson, F110-00-01150
M. Kacinas, F50-10-01000
B. Richardson, G20-10-00020
C. Geathers, FDid Not Play
L. Page, GDid Not Play
S. Phillips, GDid Not Play
A. Constable, GDid Not Play
Totals 24-645-733141959
TeamConf. W-LTot. W-LRPI Rank
S. Carolina12-626-1143
Ole Miss10-822-1477
Texas A&M8-1016-1593
Miss. State6-1216-16149
Other games
SETON 63 Final
SYR 75
WYO 46 Final
RUT 61 Final
ND 69